Sunday, April 10, 2011
Lawyer's Christian Fellowship hypocrisy from Shirley Richards: "Charter Of Rights And The Moral Divide" (read carefully)
Like it or not, the Charter of Rights, having been passed by both Houses of Parliament, is expected to become law shortly. I think, maybe, that you may be interested in knowing a few of the expected changes which will come to our society as a consequence of the charter. Here are a few of the changes:
Philosophical change in the approach to rights: In what will shortly become the previous document, rights are stated but circumscribed by limitations. In this document, it is fair to say that except for those specific limitations which have been saved, the only limitations which will be recognised will be such as are demonstrably 'justified in a free and democratic society'.
The document has both vertical and horizontal effects, meaning that we now have rights against the Government and also against each other. Expect the society then to become more litigious.
The major new rights are the right of a child to publicly funded tuition at the pre-primary and primary levels (Section 13 (k)). The right to enjoy a healthy and productive environment (Section 13 (l)). This should mean, therefore, that we will be able to sue persons who drive defective vehicles on the road as well as companies whose plants emit poisonous fumes.
Civic organisations can now intervene on behalf of individuals whose rights have been contravened or are likely to be contravened (Section 19 (2)).
Care has been taken to preserve the death penalty [Section 13 (7)], legislation that deals with sexual offences, offences that pertain to the life of the unborn, and laws that pertain to obscene publications [Section 13 (12)]. It remains to be seen how the courts will deal with these laws which have been retained.
Marriage has also been defined [Section 18 (2)] as follows:
No form of marriage … other than the voluntary union of one man and one woman may be contracted or legally recognised in Jamaica.
Thanks to our intervention, provisions relating to religious liberties have also been included at Section 17, basically repeating provisions of Section 21 of the past document.
Why did the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship intervene in the passage of the charter? In brief, we saw a document whose philosophy was the supreme autonomy of the individual. The philosophical flaw in the document then, and still is so in the current document, but to a lesser extent, is a failure to face the fact that we are all selfish by nature and that, further, we live in a community where, like it or not, our private actions do impact the life of the community. Frankly, some of us are concerned that the concept of human rights is being used to erase the distinction between right and wrong, and that human rights, in itself, have now become the new religious dogma.
After examining the document, we became very concerned about the destination of the proposed journey. When we intervened in 2006, we realised then that all our laws and any limitations on perceived rights would now be subject to what obtains in a 'free and democratic society'.
what's the destination?
The concept of us as a nation setting out on a journey in the pursuit of freedom and liberty of the individual sounded exhilarating, exciting even, but did we have any idea as to our destination? Is it good governance to lead a nation to a possible and even likely destination without their informed consent? The philosophy of the document, as it was, would certainly have allowed for a striking down of the laws relating to buggery, abortion and obscene publications. Not only that, we were concerned that the robust language of Section 21 of the soon-to-be-replaced Chapter III of the Constitution was not repeated in the proposed document.
Section 21 deals with freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, and preserves a certain amount of autonomy for religious bodies. All that was given was a right to freedom of thought, conscience, belief and observance of religious and political doctrines. Knowing what was happening in so-called free and democratic countries, e.g. Canada, where consistently, the rights of homosexuals trumped rights to conscience, and where it has been declared that women have the right to take the lives of their unborn children, ought we to have sat by just getting on with our daily routine without, at the very least, warning the nation?
We could do no less than sound a warning. This we did, and thankfully, we received a favourable hearing.
It took some courage to be able to include clauses in the current charter which have now saved laws relating to sexual offences, the life of the unborn, and obscene publications, and have preserved our religious liberties. Moreover, as said before, the document now defines marriage in the way that I dare say most Jamaicans now define that institution - being that of one man to one woman.
In this regard, I want to urge our society to give more than lip service to marriage. I want to urge our society to view the institution as an honourable one, one which provides the best environment in which to raise our children.
A mutually faithful heterosexual relationship is not merely one private option among many, but has serious implications for the public good and the health of the nation.
Our Parliament is still there to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Jamaica (Section 48). Our judges are there to interpret and apply these laws. If we want laws changed, let us do so upfront, with the full knowledge of the society. Let the Parliament not abdicate its responsibility of making laws.
Having included these sections in the charter, I want to say to the Government that we expect that if at any time there is a court decision which goes contrary to the intentions clearly expressed on behalf of the electorate that you expressed in this charter, that we do expect that you will honour the Jamaican people by taking such legislative action as may be necessary to rectify any faulty wording which may become apparent.
To the charge that the charter ignored the rights of homosexuals, I ask, where do rights originate? And if there is no transcendent moral law, what gives anyone any rights, and what prevents mere power from prevailing? If it is true that repeal of the buggery law will assist with reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, then why is it that the November 2010 edition of Lancet Infectious Diseases reported that "despite an overall decline in HIV incidence in France, transmission seems to be out of control among men who have sex with men?" Lancet is a highly reputable medical publication. Note that buggery was decriminalised in France since the time of the French Revolution in 1791. Other reputable sources (e.g., Eurosurveillance) report similar trends for HIV incidence among MSMs in many developed Western nations.
If the buggery law is repealed, what will prevent our children being taught in school that the homosexual lifestyle is a good and acceptable one?
Let me tell you about the case of Eunice and Owen Johns, a Jamaican couple who currently reside in England. They had fostered children 15 times before. Their application to foster children in 2007 was not approved by the Derby Council because, in answering questions posed by the social worker, they had made it clear that they could not and would not be willing to tell a child that homosexuality is a good thing. The High Court on February 28, 2011, sided with the council. According to the BBC report of the case, the court said that if children were placed with caregivers who objected to homosexuality, "there may well be a conflict with the local authority's duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of looked-after children".
Basically, what that decision meant is that objection to homosexuality is not in the interest of the welfare of children. To put it another way, if you do not agree with homosexual conduct, you cannot foster children in the UK! Out goes many Christian-minded people and also many Jamaican couples living in the UK! Talk about discrimination! If objection to the homosexual lifestyle makes you an unsafe parent, how long will it be before one's natural children are removed by the State for their 'safety'?
rejoice only briefly
To those persons who are like-minded - especially to the churchfolk - don't get lost in your rejoicing. Let your rejoicing be brief, for the battle has only just begun. Now as never before in our history, churches are going to have to unite to fight a common battle. Weapons will have to be carefully chosen. This battle is not one to be fought with weapons of war as in the Middle East. Instead, we will have to fight back cultural imperialism with a moral revolution!
And so I call for a moral revolution in this country; one in which we live right; one in which we speak the truth without having to be pressured at commissions of enquiry; one in which we can dialogue and cross-examine without being crass; one in which we choose to have our children within the context of stable marital unions; a society in which fathers support their children; a society in which we value our children from conception; one in which we support our mothers; one in which we jealously value and cultivate the healthy and mutually faithful man-woman relationship; and a society in which we eschew the use of violence as a means of solving our problems.
I have borrowed a thought from the words of Norman Manley uttered in Parliament on the occasion of the coming into force of the 1962 Constitution. This is the paraphrase:
Let no one imagine that we have secured our future forever. It is only the spirit and vigilance of the people which will preserve those good things that are in the Charter of Rights.
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Thanks for your Donations
thank you for your donations via Paypal in helping to keep this blog going, my limited frontline community work, temporary shelter assistance at my home and related costs. Please continue to support me and my allies in this venture that has now become a full time activity. When I first started blogging in late 2007 it was just as a pass time to highlight GLBTQ issues in Jamaica under then JFLAG's blogspot page but now clearly there is a need for more forumatic activity which I want to continue to play my part while raising more real life issues pertinent to us.
Activities & Plans: ongoing and future
- To continue this venture towards website development with an E-zine focus
- Work with other Non Governmental organizations old and new towards similar focus and objectives
- To find common ground on issues affecting GLBTQ and straight friendly persons in Jamaica towards tolerance and harmony
- Exposing homophobic activities and suggesting corrective solutions
- To formalise GLBTQ Jamaica's activities in the long term
- Continuing discussion on issues affecting GLBTQ people in Jamaica and elsewhere
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- Present issues on HIV/AIDS related matters in a timely and accurate manner
- Assist where possible victims of homophobic violence and abuse financially, temporary shelter(my home) and otherwise
- Track human rights issues in general with a view to support for ALL
Information & Disclaimer
Individuals who are mentioned or whose photographs appear on this site are not necessarily Homosexual, HIV positive or have AIDS.
This blog contains pictures that may be disturbing. We have taken the liberty to present these images as evidence of the numerous accounts of homophobic violence meted out to alledged gays in Jamaica.
Faces and names witheld for the victims' protection.
This blog not only watches and covers LGBTQ issues in Jamaica and elsewhere but also general human rights and current affairs where applicable.
This blog contains HIV prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences.
If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please view labels, post list or exit.
Since HIV infection is spread primarily through sexual practices or by sharing needles, prevention messages and programs may address these topics.
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Recent Homophobic Incidents
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What to do if you are attacked (News You Can Use)
Try to reason with the attacker: Establish communication with the person. This takes a lot of courage. However, a conversation may change the intention of an attacker.
Do not try anything foolish: If you know outmanoeuvring the attacker is impossible, do not try it.
Do not appear to be afraid: Look the attacker in the eye and demonstrate that you are not fearful.
This may have a psychological effect on the individual.
The police 119
Crime Stop 311
Steps to Take When Contronted or Arrested by Police
b) Only give name and address and no other information until a lawyer is present to assist
c) Try to be polite even if the scenario is tensed) Don’t do anything to aggravate the situation
e) Every complaint lodged at a police station should be filed and a receipt produced, this is not a legal requirement but an administrative one for the police to track reports
f) Never sign to a statement other than the one produced by you in the presence of the officer(s)
g) Try to capture a recording of the exchange or incident or call someone so they can hear what occurs, place on speed dial important numbers or text someone as soon as possible
h) File a civil suit if you feel your rights have been violatedi) When making a statement to the police have all or most of the facts and details together for e.g. "a car" vs. "the car" represents two different descriptions
j) Avoid having the police writing the statement on your behalf except incases of injuries, make sure what you want to say is recorded carefully, ask for a copy if it means that you have to return for it